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Seberang Perai clinches first-ever One Planet City Challenge win

Photo (c) Majlis Bandaraya Seberang Perai

Petaling Jaya, 5 October 2022 - The city of Seberang Perai in Penang has been crowned the winner of Malaysia’s national One Planet City Challenge (OPCC) for the first time ever.

OPCC is a biennial competition that was first organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2011 to mobilise global and local action among cities in the transition toward a climate-resilient, one-planet future.
Seberang Perai secured a hard-fought national win against Petaling Jaya and Iskandar Malaysia - two other Malaysian cities also competing for this award at the global level. Seberang Perai aimed to reduce per capita emissions by 50% by this year - with baseline data from 2016 as a comparison. Additionally, the city also identified the Transport, Waste and Energy sectors as the three main economic pillars in constructing action plans to emerge as a low carbon city. These are just some of the city’s many achievements, which helped edge it to first place.
Seberang Perai has also established the first ever ‘Upcycle Park’, recognised by the Malaysian Book of Records. The recreational park, built with used and waste materials, is leading the way in the creative use of unwanted materials in development. Solar panels have popped up on the city council building and now provide up to 40% of its energy needs. This move, as well as solar photovoltaic (PV) installations at council-owned sports complexes, are expected to save 500,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually. Adaptation is also on the city’s mind as it intends to reduce the impact of urban heat island.  For this reason, Seberang Perai is aiming to have 100,000 trees planted by the end of this year.
As seen on the Seberang Perai city council’s website (https://www.mbsp.gov.my/), the city has a vision and mission which are the  heart of its economic and environmental foresight plans. In view of this, the council has set up a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Voluntary Local Review, Climate Action Strategy, Circular Economy Roadmap, along with a Smart City and Low Carbon City Target document. Impressively, the city has even set a Gender Inclusivity Strategy Plan which demonstrates its commitment to the welfare of its people. Consequently, Seberang Perai is transparent in its desire to adhere to the goals of Penang 2030; to become a family-focused, green and smart state that inspires the nation.
On 15 September 2022, WWF-Malaysia Conservation Director Dr. Henry Chan handed over the OPCC national award winner plaque to Seberang Perai Mayor YBhg. Dato' Azhar b. Hj Arshad.  The event was witnessed by Penang state Chief Minister, YB Tuan Chow Kon Yeow and Lavanya Rama Iyer, Head of Policy and Climate Change for WWF-Malaysia, during the city’s three-year anniversary celebrations held on the eve of Malaysia Day.
“Seberang Perai is a worthy national winner for Malaysia. In fact, the city was also a prior national and global finalist from 2020. Over the past 10 years, the city has consistently gained international recognition as a sustainability leader due to its efforts in achieving its climate targets. It is so important to engage cities in the battle against climate change. We need to step up our efforts against the impacts of climate change. WWF-Malaysia thanks all the cities that have stepped up to participate in this challenge, even while faced with the challenges posed by COVID-19,” said Sophia Lim, WWF-Malaysia Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
OPCC is a friendly global competition initiated by WWF to recognise cities for their climate actions and ambitions and assess whether they align with the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement in limiting climate change to 1.5 °C. Since its inception 10 years ago, close to 600 cities from 53 countries on five continents have already participated in this challenge. Apart from the three Malaysian cities mentioned previously, WWF-Malaysia is proud to have Shah Alam and Hang Tuah Jaya to come on board and join the competition as well. Participating cities were judged against a comprehensive criterion, including ambitious climate targets, bold leadership, ability to meet upcoming challenges, and a holistic climate action plan that is future-proof and impactful. For more information on the work WWF does on sustainable cities globally, please refer to
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